How to prepare for TOEFL iBT Test (2)

Reading and Listening 

Reading (30)

Reading is the first section of the TOEFL iBT® test. Normally you will have 60 minutes to read 3 passages from academic texts and answer 36-42 questions. If you have extra test, you will have maximum 80 minutes to finish 4 passages with 56 questions.

There are 10 types of reading questions and 4 different kinds of formats used. The first is Multiple Choice including Vocabulary, Detail, Purpose, Negative Factual Information, Essential Information, Reference, and Inference. The other three are Insert a Sentence, Complete the Summary, and Complete the Table. Most types are worth one point, but a type can be worth up to 4 possible points. You could find elaborate explanations and sample questions here:



  1. Memorizing vocabularies. First, memorizing words will save you a lot of time when you encountered the vocabulary questions since you’ve already known the meanings. It also helps you understand the content of the passages better.
  2. Read the first and last one or two sentences of each paragraph. If your time is running out but you haven’t finish reading, try to read and understand the beginning and ending sentences of each paragraph which would give a clue on what the paragraph is about and a general idea about how the passage is organized.
  3. Take notes. It will help you to organize your thoughts and answer questions.
  4. Read the question first, and then read the according paragraph(s).
  5. If you get stuck on one question, skip and come back later (can only applied in reading section.)
  6. Practice as much as you can, and remember to track the time.
  7. REMEMBER to scroll down the passage to the bottom before you click on ‘next’ for the first time, or you will NOT be able to see the question.
  8. There are millions of strategies and tips online that you may find useful. If you do, use them while doing practice. Or you may also develop your own tactics.

Listening (30)

Listening is the second section of the TOEFL iBT® test. Normally you will have 60 minutes to listen to 6 passages and answer 34 questions which include conversations, classroom discussions and lectures. If you have extra test, you will have maximum 90 minutes to listen 9 passages with 51 questions.

There are 9 types of listening questions and 4 different kinds of formats used. TOEFL Listening Question Format: First, Multiple Choice includes Main Idea, Detail, Purpose, Organization, and Imply. Second, Multi-Select Multiple Choice. Third, Complete a Table. Finally, Listen Again includes Inference and Imply. All but one type is worth one point, with the other being worth 2 points. You could find elaborate explanations and sample questions here:


  1. Memorizing vocabularies. Remember words will help you understand the content, or you may be lost or confused because of one word.
  2. One effective way to practice listening is to writing down the content word by word, sentence by sentence. It takes time. However, in this way, you will surprisingly find your listening improved a lot and you can actually ‘listen.’
  3. Take good notes. This is VERY IMPORTANT. You cannot see the questions until the audio is over, and you will not be able to remember everything unless you understand all of it. Even though you are confident about your memory and listening, you may want to remind yourself by taking notes on essential points that the speakers make. Find your own way to take notes and help organize your memory.
  4. Take guesses or just leave it. You may not know every single word in the conversations or lectures, especially the academic ones. However, you need to guess the possible meanings according to the context. Or make a judgment leaving it if it is not important.
  5. Keep track of time. You have approximately 30-60 seconds on each question, and once you click ‘next’, there is no going back. Thus, you need to answer quickly and accurately. Don’t leave any question blank, at least take a guess.
  6. REMEMBER to click ‘OK’ before you click ‘NEXT.’

Extra test

The test you take may include extra questions in the Reading or Listening section that do not count toward your score. These are either questions that enable ETS to make test scores comparable across administrations or new questions that help ETS determine how such questions function under actual testing conditions.

The extra sections will be Reading or Listening only, and questions are usually from former tests.

*Above points of view are only derived from personal experiences. Anyone is welcomed to comment and offer new advice.